Since I only post unidentifiable photos of our children, you might think finding 12 favorite photos to share from the year would be challenging. Instead, I had trouble narrowing it down to 12.
But I really wanted to join Dwija at House Unseen, Life Unscripted for this fun linkup and this opportunity to think back on some of the moments from our year.
1. Our 7-year-old surprised us by climbing a rock wall.
There are milestones you know your children will achieve, and there are milestones that never even occur to you. But just days after his 7th birthday, Leo realized that you had to be 7 to climb the wall, strapped on the harness, and climbed.
2. We have watched our younger son’s love of nature grow.
Our younger son loves everyone and every living thing. “I love the whole universe,” he says over and over, and he means it. His capacity to love is so beautiful, and the passion he brings to every single day is inspiring. He and I picked this blossom from the tree in our front yard. Daniel thought it was the most wonderful gift. Maybe next year he will live out his dream and finally catch a bird.
3. Oh, how we love to play, play, play.
Our boys adore playgrounds. Deep down somewhere I know that won’t always be the case, and we won’t always be able to pick them up and head to the playground for a spontaneous picnic. But I just love to watch them climb and run and swing.
When Daniel came home from China, he was so afraid of swinging. Now he swings high and long. Such freedom. Such happiness. And I love seeing both our boys enjoying life so thoroughly together.
4. We gave Grandpa our best gift ever.
My father likes Wonder Woman, so we have given him a few Wonder Woman toys over the years. This fall as he was about to celebrate his birthday, I suggested to our sons that we could give him an invisible jet for Wonder Woman. They loved the idea. I didn’t even need to explain it.
We went and found an empty box, wrote, “Contents: 1 invisible jet,” on a piece of paper, and wrapped it up for him. I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, the grandsons who had planned it out with me or Grandpa himself. It was our cheapest, most creative, and best-remembered gift of the year.
Of course, Grandpa tells me that there’s a chance the jet flew away when he opened the box. We’ll never know, will we?
5. We are able to take our children to Mass and survive.
Taking our children to Mass has been one of our great struggles. For a while John and I went to separate Masses and kept the boys at home. Then we started taking them, but it was so difficult. Little by little, though, we have seen improvement. We started sitting separately with them at Mass, and we realized how much easier it was for us to handle them one on one. Now we even sit together sometimes. That’s how we are, living life on the edge.
I took this picture after a Mass where I took both boys alone because John was going to a different Mass. Afterward, a kind lady gave them each a dollar bill and told them how well they had behaved.
Looking at this photo makes me think of how far we have come with attending Mass with our children. And I feel good thinking of that woman who kindly complimented our children, even when there might not have been much to compliment. What wonderful people there are in the world.
6. We enjoyed our first year in our new home and neighborhood.
We moved into our new home last fall, and this year was our first full year in our home. We quickly realized we had some of the most wonderful neighbors, and that the area is great for walking and bicycle riding and exploring. Daniel loves his bicycle, and I have a feeling 2015 will be the Year of Getting Rid of the Training Wheels.
But I’m not in a rush. I’m having enough trouble keeping up with him as it is.
7. Take us out to the ballgame.
We don’t get to many baseball games, but we made it to one this past season, and it was Daniel’s first. He wanted a hot dog, so I gave him the money to go buy one, and he was so proud to make that purchase. Then he came running back with the change and much excitement.
Then the Orioles went on to have their best season in…well…a long time. And we had been part of it.
8. Let’s go fly a kite.
One of the highlights of our year is our beach vacation. We go with the cousins, as many as possible, and we have this week of relaxing, exhausting fun. We play hard all day. Then the children fall into bed every night and the adults stay up and talk about our next meal.
Last summer we watched as both Daniel and Leo flew the kites on their own, with just a little help. I am so blessed to be their mother and watch them grow.
9. I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.
I never wonder what Daniel is thinking. Never, ever, ever. He puts it all out there for the world to see.
Here it is so clear what’s on his mind and in his heart. We had the best outdoor fun in our yard this summer. An in-ground pool could never have been more fun than this inflatable pool we popped a hole in by the end of July (and kept using).
10. Happy Halloween.
Maybe you look at this photo and see two happy boys in costume. I see that, too.
But when I look at this photo I also remember how exactly a year before, on Halloween 2013, we learned that their baby cousin Georgie had gone to heaven. We went through the motions that Halloween night, trick-or-treating, and greeting our new neighbors, but our hearts were heavy. I wondered whether Halloween could ever be a happy day for us again. And, I have to say, it will always be a day when Georgie will be on our minds.
But this year, Halloween arrived just days after Georgie’s baby sister was born, and our grief was different. We still miss Georgie. We always will. We also feel incredibly blessed to welcome our niece and cousin, who is absolutely precious. We did have a good Halloween.
And, thanks to Georgie, our sons seem to see heaven as just another chapter in life.
11. Surfing with the cousins
On our beach trips I’m not sure whether our children are more enthusiastic about the beach, the boardwalk, or having their cousins there. Actually, I do know. The cousins are the best part of the trip.
From Leo’s first days home from China, and also from Daniel’s, they have seen their cousins as extensions of their family, friends to talk to and play with and create wonderful scenarios together. This week I believe they are the Digimon Pokemon Minion Spy Group. But ssh. Don’t tell anyone.
Here they are pretending to surf at the beach. It is such a gift for our children to have their cousins in their lives. And we are so fortunate to get to watch their friendships grow.
12. Brothers and best friends
They are best friends. Of course they argue and have disputes over toys and who got more noodles in their soup, but they adore each other. It is impossible for me to imagine either one of them without his brother at his side. The night I took this photo we were at the St. Pius X Carnival. They were laughing together on rides and trying to win prizes and guzzling lemonade and just being brothers. It’s these little moments I love to capture and hold onto as they grow.